213 W. 42nd Street,
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The Lyric Theatre was built in 1903 and designed by Victor Hugo Koehler. The theater had two entrances, the larger facade being on the 43rd Street side, in a mix of Renaissance Revival styles, and the smaller facade, resembling a brownstone mansion, on 42nd Street. Both were heavily decorated with sculpture, including figures of goddesses, masks, and of course, lyres. The Adam/Empire style interior of the theater featured an auditorium with two balconies, 18 boxes, and gilded plasterwork. The color scheme was originally light green and rose.
The Lyric Theatre was initially to have been leased to composer Reginald DeKoven as home to his American School of Opera, but the school went bankrupt before the theater was completed. It ended up being leased instead to the Shubert brothers as a legitimate stage. The Lyric Theatre ended its legitimate days in 1934. In order to survive during the Depression, it joined many other 42nd Street houses in becoming a movie theatre.
The Lyric Theatre remained a movie house into the 1990’s (by which time it was in poor shape) until in 1996, after its remaining architectural elements were removed, it joined the neighboring Apollo Theatre in being razed, replaced by the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, which fragments of both the Lyric Theatre and Apollo Theatre were reused in. Both 42nd and 43rd Street facades of both the Lyric Theatre and Apollo Theatre were also retained. Former Cineplex Odeon baron Garth Drabinsky envisioned the $36 million Ford Center as a home for his production of “Ragtime”, and would be the first new free-standing legitimate house built in Times Square in over 70 years. The Ford Center for the Performing Arts was later renamed the Hilton Theatre, and in 2011 became the Foxwoods Theatre.
Some of the information here was found in the books “Lost Broadway Theatres” by Nicholas Van Hoogstraten and “Broadway Theatres” by William Morrison.
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